Par Equity invested £38m in early-stage technology businesses across the North of the UK in 2022, up from £25m in 2021, making it one of the most prominent and active technology investors in the region.
The venture capital firm backed 27 companies in 2022, of which ten were new additions to the portfolio.
One of the highlights of the year was the sale of Optoscribe, a developer of 3D lasers for telecommunications. The acquisition, by semiconductor manufacturer Intel Corporation, generated substantial returns for investors. It also meant that Par Equity has returned capital back to its investor base every year for the past decade.
Edinburgh-based Par Equity has continued to build out its capabilities to lead and support Seed and Series A funding rounds. The team focuses on business-to-business IP-rich technology solutions that have the potential to transform industries. The companies in which it invests typically operate in the fields of climate tech, health tech and industry 4.0.
Par Equity’s new investments were spread across the North of the UK, with four based in Scotland, four in the North of England and one in Northern Ireland. A further company, StretchSense, which has its headquarters in New Zealand, raised £4.2m, in a round led by Par Equity, to build out its European operations from Scotland. Other notable investments this year include Fuuse, an EV charge point management system, Integrated Graphene, a revolutionary 3D graphene foam, Novosound, the ultrasound sensor specialist and Nova Pangaea Technologies, a global leader in sustainable aviation fuel technology.
Andrew Noble, Partner at Par Equity, said: “These companies are reflective of the types of things we get excited about. They have developed game-changing and hard-to-replicate technologies with global applicability. As an economic zone, the North of the UK is the equivalent of the 8th largest country in Europe and the 20th largest in the world. We see enormous opportunity here. Our world-class academic institutions and technology hubs are awash with innovation and there’s a fantastic pipeline of talent emerging across the North of the UK.”
Paul Munn, Managing Partner at Par Equity, added: “I’m incredibly proud of the team’s achievements this year and the level of investment and support we’re bringing to the table, especially in a region which is largely underserved and overlooked. A vibrant start-up and scale-up community is vital to the economic future of the UK and we hope we are playing a small part in the Government’s important Levelling Up plans.
Paul continued: “The portfolio is making fantastic progress despite the wider macroeconomic challenges and, for the global technology industry, 2022 was a significant reset, book-ended by polarising conditions. Fortunately, our localised, early-stage investment strategy has protected us from some of this volatility and we ended 2022 in good shape and with a great deal of momentum. Now is the time to be in the market and investing and we’re excited about identifying and supporting further technologies and talent in 2023.”
In addition to its venture capital activity, Par Equity continued to build out its commercial forestry and natural capital solutions. In 2021, the firm partnered with Aviva Investors on a woodland creation and peatland restoration scheme, a project which is forecast to capture more than 1.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, and in 2022 it acquired a further five sites across Scotland.
Par Equity’s success in 2022 was recognised by its peers in the form of five industry awards. These included two from EISA, the EIS Association (Best EIS Investment Manager and an Impact award); the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) Most Active Investor in the Regions award; a Sale of the Year accolade at the Scottish Deal and Dealmakers awards and recognition at the Growth Investor awards for the Most Impactful Regional Investment.